Guest Post by Barbara Friedland, Director of Religious Exploration at Thomas Jefferson Unitarian Church in Louisville, Kentucky. Thanks Barbara!
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For three years now, our Religious Exploration children and youth have engaged in a Halloween social justice project called Trick or Treat for Food in partnership with a neighborhood adjoining the church property to collect donations for a Louisville area food pantry. Rather than going door to door on a quest for candy, our young people go on a quest to make a difference in the world. The event provides an opportunity to encourage a generous spirit in our young people as well as in our neighbors.
This year, our local newspaper responded to our press release with wonderful online and in print coverage. Congregation members are excited to see our church receive this degree of media attention but perhaps most importantly, our families are more excited about church. The children still talk about being in the paper. A delegation from the church, including families, the DRE, and the Minster, visited the food pantry to weigh and sort the food and stock the shelves. A total of just under three hundred pounds of goods were donated through the efforts of our children and youth.
If we want to better engage our families in living our principles and inspire others around us, partnership social justice outreach events are very powerful. The lessons learned from intentional activities are at least as important as the content of any curriculum binder. The active engagement of families is a key to deeper involvement in church life, leading to more vital congregations.
When UU congregations reach out to the world around us through intentional social justice work, when we- dare I say it- become UU evangelists through our actions, I believe we can inspire those who may not know about us to visit and those who may have become lost along the way to come back into the fold.